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Bike racks bloom across city thanks to Wellness Coalition

HARLINGEN — Red, green and blue loops anchored in concrete are becoming a sight to see across the city.
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The bike racks — eventually 100 will be installed — are being positioned outside businesses and municipal buildings and in parks gratis thanks to a donation from the Harlingen Wellness Coalition.

“Right now what we’re doing is different businesses around the city are asking us to install them,” Javier Mendez, parks and recreation director, said yesterday. “So what we’re looking at is a map just to make sure that we’re being as efficient with those as possible where we install them.”

The Harlingen Wellness Coalition promotes multi-modal transportation, health and wellness in the city and Cameron County. Its funding of the bike racks is derived from a grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, Mendez said.

So far the colorful bike racks can be found outside City Hall, Carlito’s Wine House on Jackson Street, Lozano Plaza and Arroyo and Pendleton parks, among other spots. Around 90 of the racks are still available.

“Our installation costs are very minimal — it doesn’t take much,” said Jeff Lyssy, parks superintendent. “We go and drill out a couple holes and fasten them with anchors.”

“It takes the guys like 15 minutes to put them in,” Mendez added. “It’s real quick.”

The bike racks are loops of steel, stand about three feet high, and have cutouts of bicycles on the crossbeams of each side. Bike riders stand their bikes against one of the rack loops and affix a lock to secure the bicycle.

The Parks and Recreation Department applied for funding for the racks and the Wellness Coalition granted the request.

Mendez and other city officials have made it a mission to promote a healthy use of bicycles by making it easy for local residents as well as tourists.

Earlier this year, 10 Zagster commuter bikes were placed in locking racks at McKelvey Park and another four bikes are available at a station at the Regional Academic Health Center on the campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The Zagster bike-share program allows a user to download an app for a mobile phone, create an account and register a credit card. Then when a user wants to unlock a bike, he or she enters the code and receives a text with a number that unlocks the bike.